Tracie P’s pici

In the wake of a comment on this blog by Tracie P (while I was in Tuscany) sharing her yen for some Tuscan pici (long noodles made with only flour and water), my good friend Federico aka Fred (export director for one of my favorite Montalcino wineries, Le Presi) appeared one day with two bags of dried pici by Panarese for me to take home.

Last night for dinner, Tracie P defrosted some of her excellent ragù and used it to dress a few nidi (nests) of the pici (also called pinci).

On the back of the label, the only ingredients listed are durum wheat flour and water. There’s something about pici, even when dried (and not freshly rolled out), that makes them ideal for meat sauces (or mushrooms). For all of their humility, the purity of the saltless flour and the texture of the noodles create a sublime pairing with the richness of the sauce. Simply delicious. We paired with a grapey, bretty, easygoing Valle Reale Montepulciano d’Abruzzo that was remarkably fresh and bouncy for an 06. A perfect Tuesday night dinner, catching up on the TV shows we missed (Tracie P sacrificed herself and did NOT watch the season finales of True Blood and Mad Men so that we could watch them together… THAT’S how much she loves me, she says).

How did I manage to get the pasta back without any breakage?

I used my cowboy hat, of course! I packed the bags of noodles on either side of the “crown” of the hat in my carry-on. It worked like a charm! That’s me, btw, above, outside the famous Osteria al Cappello in Udine, where hundreds of hats (cappelli) hang from the ceiling. (Photo by Joe Campanale.) The owner asked me if I’d give her my hat for her restaurant. “Un bel cappello,” she said. “A fine hat.”

“Naw,” I told her. “This hat will be riding home with the San Diego Kid back to Austin.” I’ll post more on the AMAZING MEAL I had at Osteria al Cappello in an upcoming post.

In the meantime, we’re sending lots of love to Pam and Melvin Croaker today. Melvin, you may remember, gave me my cowboy hat late last year.

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